Low Impact Development in a Concrete Jungle
Most of us who live in the City are used to being surrounded by the concrete jungle. We may try to compensate for the asphalt and hard surfaces around us with lawns and gardens.
However, these lawns and gardens are most often ill-equipped to deal with the stormwater runoff from the surrounding hardened landscape.
With our climate becoming more unpredictable, and an increasing number of “flashy” storms happening each year, there can be difficulties with our City’s aging stormwater infrastructure’s ability to handle runoff.
Out of a need to manage unpredictable runoff, and a desire to be more environmentally conscious, has come a practice known as “Low Impact Development”.
What is LID?
Low Impact Development, or “LID”, is the use of innovative stormwater management techniques and site design strategies that mimic what a site’s natural hydrology may have been prior to development. LID acts to manage runoff as close to the source as possible. The techniques aim to infiltrate, filter, evaporate, harvest, and detain runoff, and these techniques in turn, also prevent pollution. To put it simply, LID helps rainwater soak into the ground or evaporate before it has the chance to become runoff, and flood or pollute surrounding areas.
Plantings in LID designs are chosen carefully. They must be able to handle short-term flooding, where water can be standing for up to 48 hours, in addition to drought conditions (unless irrigation has been installed. The species chosen can be diverse and able to adapt and excel under a range of moisture conditions.
LID techniques are cost effective, reduce localized flooding by minimizing runoff, and create less stress on pre-existing traditional stormwater infrastructure. One of the best parts of LID is that the methods used for managing water are also, in many cases, very beautiful to look at!
Is LID for you?
Most people today want to be environmentally friendly, but often times being good to the environment can also be hard on the wallet. Luckily, you don’t have to sacrifice the money in your wallet or your landscaping goals to achieve an environmental objective. The nice thing about LID is it’s no more expensive, and can even be less expensive, than traditional landscaping (or drainage remediation!) techniques.
There is also the perception out there that naturalized landscapes are uninteresting and “weedy”. Although many plantings associated with LID are native, they can be very attractive and aesthetically pleasing.
LID solves problems that many people have in their yards with poor drainage caused by the amount of runoff coming from surrounding hardened surfaces. It helps with infiltration and harvesting of runoff, while filtering the runoff and preventing pollution to our nearby lakes and rivers.
What projects have you been considering for your yard? Many of them fit with LID concepts. If you have been considering re-doing your driveway or front garden, and you know your neighbourhood has had issues with runoff during recent heavy storm events in the Ottawa area, LID may be something for you to look into. With practical permeable paving products, and pleasing designs for rain gardens, LID is both functional and beautiful.
Although LID is something relatively new in the Ottawa area, it has been studied and put into practice in southern Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area and in the United States for a number of years now. Homeowners in highly populated areas of Toronto and surrounding municipalities are looking for alternatives to the concrete and pavement they are surrounded by. LID has provided that avenue. Municipalities have started implementing LID measures when undertaking infrastructure projects – finding even for road reconstruction projects – LID measures can be effective at addressing on-going stormwater management issues.
LID has the ability to green up yards here in Ottawa too. Depending on the location, the plants in LID designs, can also be chosen for their ability to survive in areas of heavy salt application. This becomes especially important after the past few winters we have experienced here in Ottawa, with lots of ice and lots of salt spread on the roads to combat slippery conditions. LID plantings are far more capable of withstanding pollutants, such as salt, compared to other more traditional perennials planted in the garden. This makes them more attractive in the garden and to the wallets of homeowners.
There are almost no downsides to choosing an LID design for your next landscaping project. LID techniques cost the same or less than alternative means, the designs look good, they are good for the environment, and they are ultimately helpful to the upkeep of your property (i.e., less risk of flooding).
LID Services include:
- Rainwater harvesting systems;
- Downspout disconnection;
- Soakaways, infiltration trenches, and chambers;
- Bioretention (to help treat runoff);
- Vegetated filter strips;
- Permeable pavement;
- Rain gardens;
- Dry swales and grass swales; and
- Perforated pipe systems.
Low impact development solutions can often involve a multi-disciplinary team. Our well rounded team at ALHG includes a drainage engineer with ten years of experience in stormwater management design under all sorts of settings. Most LID designs start with calculations to determine the appropriate size of the system to address the drainage issue at hand. Once an approximate size is determined, our in-house engineer and softscape design team work hand-in-hand to determine all other aspects of the design; from soil media, to piping requirements to plantings, we look at the whole system to make sure the right solution is established to address your property needs.
Why Choose Alan and Heather for your Low Impact Development Project?
When you choose ALHG for your low impact development project you are partnering with a small, locally-owned, family-run landscaping business. With Alan specializing in construction and Heather specializing in softscape design, they are the perfect team to help you improve and beautify your Ottawa property.
The ALHG team is large enough and experienced enough to design low impact development solutions of all sizes, but we’re still small enough to give your solution the specific care and attention it needs to make the big impact on your curb appeal while serving its purpose for stormwater management.
We believe in providing great service and value along with complete customer satisfaction with every project we complete! We will conduct ourselves like true professionals on your property at all times, leaving no trace behind but your new low impact design features!
If you’d like an estimate for low impact development services please fill out our contact form or give us a call (343) 262-4769 and we’ll get right back to you.